Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing have studied crab-eating macaques to create a map of the changes that occur during pregnancy, which could help understand issues like recurrent miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, and gestational diabetes.

Pregnancy causes significant disruption to the body’s metabolic flow, but little is known about it. The species known as Macaca fascicularis, or the long-tailed macaque, can be found throughout tropical Southeast Asia. Crab-eating macaques were used in this experiment as they are one of the primates closely related to humans.

The researchers took 273 tissue samples from 12 captive-bred monkeys, including blood serum samples and 22 tissue samples from different body systems.

The metabolism comprises thousands of different chemical pathways, and the researchers identified all the small-molecule chemicals within each sample, known as a ‘metabolome.’ The metabolome refers to the qualitative and the quantitative collection of all low-molecular-weight molecules (metabolites) present in the cell. They are participants in general metabolic reactions and that are required for the maintenance, growth, and normal function of a cell.

During pregnancy, 91 metabolites changed consistently across all 23 tissues sampled. Specifically, the uterus backs off from its ongoing metabolic ‘agreement’ with the heart and skeletal muscles, coupling with the developing placenta instead.

The placenta appeared to send metabolites to the pregnant monkey’s heart, ovaries, and liver. The uterus then shifts its focus to a metabolic exchange with scalp skin tissue.

The samples showed the skeletal muscles had developed a significant exchange with the spinal cord in the third trimester.

The researchers verified the roles of all 91 pregnancy-adaptive metabolites in human cell models and 32 pregnant human blood serum samples.

Pregnant women with pre-eclampsia had a massive drop in levels of the metabolite corticosterone, which is involved in maturing the placenta.

Palmitoylcarnitine, which regulates immunity and processes fatty acids, appears to be another key metabolite during pregnancy.

This metabolic shift may have some link to gestational diabetes, but more research is needed, according to zoologist Shyh-Chang Ng.

This news is a creative derivative product from articles published in famous peer-reviewed journals and Govt reports:

1. Yu, D., Wan, H., Tong, C., Guang, L., Chen, G., Su, J., … & Shyh-Chang, N. (2024). A multi-tissue metabolome atlas of primate pregnancy. Cell187(3), 764-781..
2. Burton, Graham J., et al. “Pre-eclampsia: pathophysiology and clinical implications.” Bmj 366 (2019).
3. Sweeting, Arianne, et al. “A clinical update on gestational diabetes mellitus.” Endocrine reviews 43.5 (2022): 763-793.
4. Verbeek, André LM, and Anna JM Verbeek. “Timely assessment of cardiovascular risk after preeclampsia.” Women’s Health 10.6 (2014): 557-559.
5. Juan, Juan, and Huixia Yang. “Prevalence, prevention, and lifestyle intervention of gestational diabetes mellitus in China.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17.24 (2020): 9517.
6. Martens, Harald, and Achim Kohler. “Mathematics and measurements for high-throughput quantitative biology.” Biological Theory 4.1 (2009): 29-43.
7. Eudey, Ardith A. “The crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis): Widespread and rapidly declining.” Primate conservation 23.1 (2008): 129-132.

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